Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LOLA



Adrian Martin and I are excited to announce the launch of our new Internet film journal LOLA.

We've worked steadily on the journal for the last several months. We owe enormous thanks to our webmaster, the filmmaker Bill Mousoulis, for his invaluable help; and to all the authors who were so wonderfully generous and patient during the entire process.

Here is the table of contents for the debut issue; the theme of the issue is "Histories."

Let me provide links below to the fifteen pieces in the issue, along with a brief excerpt from each:

-- Joe McElhaney, "Contemporary Cinema?": "I was born in 1957, the year Charles Chaplin made A King in New York. Chaplin was 68, allowing A King in New York to be seen as the film of not only ‘a free man’ (as Roberto Rossellini famously put it) but an old one […] [M]y relationship to contemporary cinema can be dominated by a passion for aging filmmakers, the older the better: Rohmer (deceased, but just barely), Resnais, Rivette. And who older (and perhaps better) than Oliveira?"

-- William D. Routt, "Innuendo 1.5": "Lubitsch’s offensive characters - named Moritz or Sally or Meyer - were not unlike the characters performed by some rappers today. They were composed of all the stereotypical traits that made Germans, even German Jews, uneasy. Sally Pinkus and his kind were in-your-face Jews, a combination of shmendrik and schlemihl [...]: lecherous, stupid, greedy, vulgar, sneaky, cunning, ill-mannered, klutzy, flamboyant. In Lubitsch’s films these awful characters triumphed: they got the girls and the money - just what anti-Semites, then and now, are afraid of. That was the joke."

-- Andrew Klevan, "Expressing the In-Between": [On the character played by Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby] "Susan’s fluidity and flexibility of movement shows a capacity for indefinite behaviour, an elegant erasing of boundaries (erected by stiffer bodies and stuffy institutions). The mythical forest is ideal, but she turns everywhere into an in-between place, where a lack of conventional determinations and destinations arouse indeterminacy. Maybe this is because, as she repeatedly tells us, she was born, not on the top, nor at the foot, but on the ‘side of a hill’."

-- Luc Moullet, "Ah Yes! Griffith was a Marxist!": "The film is also the first masterpiece of militant cinema. Eisenstein dreamed of adapting Capital, but Griffith had already done it twenty years before with this film. While we often think of the Southern conservative of The Birth of a Nation (1915), Griffith is here, paradoxically, very close to Karl Marx."

-- Richard Porton, "WR: Mysteries of the Organism: Anarchist Realism and Critical Quandaries": "Makavejev’s playful, allusive film, an apt case study for testing the capabilities of a robustly contextualist criticism, cries out for what, following Clifford Geertz, social scientists (as well as a recent generation of literary critics) refer to as ‘thick description’. For resourceful critics, WR is also the perfect vehicle for flights of essayistic fancy. Raymond Durgnat, a famously digressive critic himself, compared Makavejev’s magnum opus to an ‘adventure playground’."

-- Shigehiko Hasumi, "Fiction and the 'Unrepresentable': All Movies are but Variants on the Silent Film": "Stated briefly, my hypothesis is that the medium of film has not yet truly incorporated sound as an essential component of its composition. This statement applies generally to all types of film, whether produced for entertainment or for artistic ends, irrespective of the form in which they have been consumed throughout the history of the medium stretching back over one hundred years. Another way of expressing this hypothesis is to say that the so-called talkie is in fact no more than a variant of the silent film."

-- Sylvia Lawson, "Out of the Mid-Century: History, Memory and Cinema": "Watching cinema, we’re always watching history. It could be the history of the present, or else history as it was unfolding in the time of the film’s production. If it’s a period-piece, the history isn’t so much in what’s illustrated as in the way of looking at the story. Those genteel costume dramas produced by the renascent Australian industry in the ‘70s had nothing to do with (for example) girls’ boarding schools in 1900. The history they tell us is the history of ideas about what a national cinema should be doing. There was an aspiration in there, a straining toward European art-cinema, and a lot of cultural anxiety."

-- Stephen Goddard, "'So, Did You See Me?': Testimony, Memory and Re-Making Film History": "In 1997, my mother engaged in a process of remembering, narrating and reconsidering her histories when her video testimony was recorded by the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. […] Some families are able to gather around a family photo album, to hear the stories that surround the images of parents and relatives in earlier times. My parents did not have any photographs from their days before war. My mother’s prisoner number clothing tag is the earliest remaining image representing her identity. As an antidote to the lost images of her formative days, and as a way of representing the events that were never recorded, the stories and anecdotes from her Shoah testimonial have now become the soundtrack to a lost ‘home movie’."

-- Darren Tofts, "In My Time of Dying: The Premature Death of a Film Classic": "What do we conclude from the jaundiced history of The Song Remains the Same? It is clear that, rather than some hideous chimera that should never have been made, the film and the story of its making is, in fact, archetypal filmmaking. The history of cinema is the history of overcoming circumstance. From a cybernetic point of view, the final film that is eventually screened is not a successful culmination of shooting, editing and post-production schedule. It is a measure of the degree to which entropy or error has been avoided or at the very least minimised during the entire production process."

-- Adrian Martin, "Dinosaurs, Babies and the Sound of Music": "It is important to remember this in the discussion of cinema: we must follow the music. Because, of all the arts, music – no matter how deeply rooted it is in the history and tradition of its country of origin – is the most stateless, the most nomadic and migratory. Wherever it lands, it takes root: becoming an intimate part of one’s experience, one’s history. Music’s destiny is always to be appropriated, but not in the sophisticated, knowing, tortuous way the visual arts, at least since the ‘60s, have violently appropriated images, wrenching them from their context and brazenly advertising the thematics of that displacement. Music simply carries..."

-- Justine Grace, "The Streets: Breaking out of the Black Box/White Cube in Rotterdam": "For Carels, a guiding principle in compiling the XL programme was the relationship between a work of art, or film, and its site; the idea that locations outside the traditional exhibition space of the white cube/black box could provide an illuminating exhibition framework that enhanced the meaning of the work and the experience of the viewer."

-- Nicole Brenez, "F.J. Ossang: The Grand Insurrectionary Style": "Instead of showing the chase or the race, Ossang films the world that produces such velocity, plunging into the substance of colours and the experience of sensations. Whatever the story may be, it springs from a love of words: not so much the dialogue but the formulation, the insert, the slogan, the point – giving rise to the monumental handwriting that so characterises his work. But, most of all, Ossang’s cinema involves bringing back epic gestures to popular visual culture, tearing things apart until they become inconceivably beautiful."

-- James Guida, "Stuck in the Mud: The Visions of Lucrecia Martel": "Martel’s characters flit in and out of harm’s shadow as a matter of course. The interest is not in danger as shock value, but in its regular promise and proximity, in the sights and sounds that surround its unfolding."

-- David Phelps, "Think But This ... 36 vues du Pic St-Loup": "Rivette, like Louis Feuillade, frames spaces as stages, even outside: the movie exists only within the world its characters have created. Characters enter the frame as they would enter a doorway on-stage to join a scene; if they are not in frame, they are ghosts, with no relevance to the scene at all except as ghosts, and when the audience is not seen in the rehearsal/performances, it may as well not exist."

-- Elena Gorfinkel, "At the End of Cinema, This Thing Called Film": "Light cannot contain film, but spills out, through film and beyond it. If film spilling entails loss – the nightmare of film preservationists’ Sisyphean struggle against the ravages of time on an unfathomable body of unknown films – light spilling invokes an expanded arena of diffusion and admixture..."

I should also mention that Adrian's been very busy: he also guest-edited the new issue of Screening The Past.


* * *

I'm curious to know from readers (if they wish): Are there certain topic areas within cinema that you think might be in particular need of critical/scholarly exploration for future essays or issues? In other words, I'm wondering: Are there specific topics on which you might particularly be interested to read critical/scholarly writing about cinema? Thank you!

26 Comments:

Blogger PARALLEL FILM said...

How about FILMS FOR CHILDREN? Most of the „serious” criticism skip that field.

Another field I'd be interested is PASTICHE and IMITATION in movies. Movies imitating other movies. There is so much of it, but mostly the „imitators” are dismissed in favour for the „originals”. I often wonder why certain styles become fashion while others don't.

August 17, 2011 7:43 AM  
Blogger Daniel Kasman said...

Congratulations Girish and Adrian! Looks like I have my summer reading set out for me -- I can't wait to delve in.

August 17, 2011 8:57 AM  
Blogger Adrian Mendizabal said...

We've been pooling articles for a Philippine Cinema Online Journal ourselves. :) Such an inspiration! Great work guys!

August 17, 2011 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Surbhi Goel said...

Congratulations to the world of Film scholarship and thanks to all of you for this !! great articles.

I look forward to read more on Music, Film analysis, Asian Films and Documentary/non-fiction Films.
best wishes
Surbhi

August 17, 2011 9:24 AM  
Blogger Catherine Grant said...

Many congratulations, Girish and Adrian. The issue looks fantastic, Andrew Klevan's article is fantastic, and I can't wait to read the rest of essays. I'd like to see some good, future writing on the other, generative (for the journal) LOLA films, beyond RUN LOLA RUN and LOLA MONTES which are raised in this issue. Oh, and I'd like to experience some video essays on, well, anything ;) Thank you!

August 17, 2011 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Trevor L. said...

Congratulations to both of you! This looks wonderful, and I can't wait to read through it. I'm quite fond of your title: not only does the name Lola conjure up so many associations with films, it is also my cat's name.

Regarding your question about future topics, a few come to mind. I think the concept of performance would be interesting and is underexamined. I don't mean performances, necessarily, or acting in general, or the performers themselves, but the way performing, within and outside of the world of the film (on a sort of "meta-" level), adds to the texture and meaning of a film. Films that come to mind around this concept are Beau travail (specifically the last shot), Certified Copy, Paris Is Burning, Carlos Saura's Carmen, Resnais' Melo. I suggest this because it seems to me that it's a blind spot for auteurist critics in that they often see performance as simply a manipulable element for the director to use rather than something operating on a more independent, parallel level.

Another idea that comes to mind is one suggested by the excerpt above from Shigehiko Hasumi: sound. I've always been fascinated by the way films use sound, but it doesn't get a lot of attention, partly because we tend to focus so much on the visual aspect of cinema. There's no doubt that a lot of rich material for exploration exists out there on this topic. Finally, I think looking at a genre would be interesting, especially one that gets less attention than others. For instance, I know that Adrian has written about teen movies. One I'm curious about seeing critics give serious attention to is the action film. Perhaps a future issue could be dedicated to three or four of these genres; it's always enjoyable to read smart people on supposedly "dumb" genres.

Best of luck to both of you on this!

August 17, 2011 10:18 AM  
Blogger Just Another Film Buff said...

This is darn exciting. Just look at all the names! My bookmarks folder just got fatter. Take a bow, Girish and Adrian.

Topics? Agitprop.

August 17, 2011 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Wise said...

I think the journal is wonderful. The text layout is very easy on the eyes. The homepage could have a bit more flourish to it, but not necessarily a deluge of pictures and functions.

My only complaint is that if you're going to do themed issues you really should include an introduction that contextualizes everything. Nothing long like a book chapter that summarizes each article but some sort of short manifesto or editorial that recounts why you chose the theme in question. Also, a comments section would be valued. Apart from that I think you assembled a really powerful collective of writers. Great job.

I'll second the wish for an issue on pastiche, imitation, and homage. I'd like to see Tarantino receive some serious (and novel) critical attention.

August 17, 2011 11:58 AM  
Blogger Adam K said...

Excellent-looking articles at that inaugural issue.

I'll second PARALLEL FILM's "films for children" suggestion and such other underrepresented avenues of study as newsreels, industrial films, and dubbing and subtitling.

August 17, 2011 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Jim Gerow said...

Congratulations on the launch of LOLA. One other Lola film not yet mentioned, in the context of Philippine cinema, is Brillante Mendoza's LOLA (GRANDMOTHER) starring the great Anita Linda, as iconic in her own way as Dietrich, Anouk Aimee or Barbara Sukowa.

August 17, 2011 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Omar Ahmed said...

Awesome, fantastic, mind blowing - hmmm, I seem to run out of superlatives! This is very inspirational to see from all of those involved - congrats to you Girish and Adrian on this new journey you are undertaking; some late summer reading.

August 17, 2011 3:06 PM  
Anonymous jim emerson said...

Congratulations! I have SO much reading to look forward to...

August 17, 2011 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Dan North said...

The journal looks fabulous, a welcome addition to the field.

I was trying to think of a possible topic for you, but since I read Parallel Film's suggestion of 'Films for Children' I can't get it out of my head or move beyond it, i.e. it's a great, original idea, and arguably very forward-looking in initiating a discussion that can be taken up and on by young cinephiles.

August 17, 2011 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Bobby Wise said...

Random thought, on the subject of children. Has a child ever directed a feature film? Who's the youngest ever to make a feature?

August 17, 2011 5:49 PM  
Anonymous caboose said...

maybe a few book reviews . . .?

August 17, 2011 6:29 PM  
Blogger Adrian said...

Hey Mr Caboose, since my University library is legally unable to order a certain Bazin book, and since no free copies have ever come by secret mail to my door in Australia, we are unable to discuss it in LOLA !! (hint hint)

August 17, 2011 7:03 PM  
Anonymous caboose said...

Just to be clear, I wasn't flogging my book, I just thought it would be nice to see book reviews in your nice mag. Sorry about the other situation; beyond my control.

August 17, 2011 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

For those (including myself) interested in pastiche, there is the book 'Pastiche' by Richard Dyer. I haven't read it yet but it is a top priority because I think Dyer is one of the best writers on film.

Related to pastiche, and another topic I'm interested in, is intertextuality. Adrian Martin recommends a book on the subject called 'The Memory of Tiresias' by Mikhail Iampolski. Again, I haven't read it yet (or anything else by Iampolski) but it is another top priority because of how highly Martin thinks of it.

August 18, 2011 12:58 AM  
Anonymous Zach said...

Pastiche, children's cinema, and intertextuality all seem like good ideas to me.

And Mikhail Iampolski (whom I looked into on Adrian's recommendation, as well) is a titan!

August 18, 2011 9:43 AM  
Anonymous David D. said...

Congratulations on the new website! I really liked Richard Porton's piece on Dusan Makavejev's masterpiece WR: MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM, and I look forward to reading the other entries.

August 18, 2011 2:54 PM  
Anonymous David D. said...

On potential future essays, did anyone yet say book reviews?

August 18, 2011 2:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, friends, for all your good wishes! And for all the great ideas you've given us here.

Like Dan, I can't get the idea of "children's films" out of my head either! (All--"Parallel Film" above, who suggested it, is the "nom de blog" of German filmmaker Christoph Hochhäusler.) Thank you, Christoph.

But I have made note of ALL the suggestions generously offered here; we shall take the ideas to heart.

Judging from the number of 'subscriptions' at the site, LOLA appears to be off to a very healthy start. Thank you, all.

August 20, 2011 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Wise said...

Just a word of advice: don't let it sag for a year or so without updating the content (e.g. Rouge). Out of sight, out of mind!

August 21, 2011 7:02 AM  
Blogger PARALLEL FILM said...

Now that I had to time to look into it: I am very very greatful for the innuendo piece on Lubitsch --- looking forward to read the rest. Great start, thank you!

I am glad my „request” for a children's films related issue is been taken in consideration :-)

Christoph, from Berlin

August 21, 2011 3:38 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Nyhuis said...

Since Godard had the audacity to include one in FILM SOCIALISME, how about an article on DVD menu screens? Or YouTube videos?

August 27, 2011 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any place to download a PDF with the whole journal--I love reading hard copies : ) Also--Congrats Girish and Adrian, I am so eager to read!

August 28, 2011 11:43 AM  

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